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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles

Chapter 71 - 1 Peter 5:10 - Apostolic Intercession Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles by Bonar, Horatius




Apostolic Intercession.


     "But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you."-1 Peter 5:10.



     What a prayer is this! How brief, yet full!  He who gets the contents of this verse poured into him gets all he needs. Mark,-

     I. The name of our God.-'The God of all grace.' Not only is He the gracious God, but emphatically He is the God of grace, nay, the God of all grace. Nothing that can come under the name of grace but is to be found in Him. Grace, manifold grace, riches of grace, exceeding riches of grace, all grace; such is the way in which grace or free love is connected with God,-the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who loved the world, and gave His Son, is the God with whom we have to do,-the God of all grace. To such a God how welcome is the returning sinner! In such a God how calmly and simply His believing ones may rest!

     II. Our calling.-His voice was first, not ours. He spoke to us ere we spoke to Him. He called us, as Jesus did His disciples at the Sea of Galilee, or Zaccheus on the sycamore tree. Yes, God began with us ere we began with God; so that, if any doubting spirit, crying to God, asks, Will God hear me? we can answer, What do you mean? Do you not know that God Himself stirred up that cry of yours; and will He reject a soul whom He has thus roused up to pray? He calls; and He calls with resistless, though unperceived power. He calls to glory, to His glory, to His eternal glory. Such is His calling; and His calling prevails. He calls, and we obey. Follow me to the cross, said the Master; Follow me also to the crown, said He once and again.

     III. The channel.-By Christ Jesus. It is through Him that the calling comes, and is made effectual; through Him the way is prepared, the new and living way; through Him the glory is purchased; and through Him we are conducted to the glory. Without Him glory was impossible, the kingdom inaccessible to the sinner. He opens the gate; He quenches the flaming sword; He rends the veil; He sprinkles the blood; He leads in the sinner, and places him in the holiest of all, beneath the brightness of the glory. With that glory the love and blood of Jesus are inseparably connected. To Him it is that we owe it all. Hence we sing, ' Unto Him that loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father.'

     IV. The present discipline.-We are to 'suffer a while,' or more fully, 'a little while,' or perhaps simply, 'a little,' referring not to the time, but to the affliction, as Paul does when he speaks of 'our light affliction.' Yet though in one sense it is light and short, in another it is heavy and long. Nor can we fail to feel it so, though the prospect of the 'exceeding and eternal weight of glory' lightens it, and cheers us under it, as the prospect of home makes the way seem short and smooth to the returning exile. Yet, lighter or heavier, it is still 'discipline,' chastisement,' 'rebuke,' 'scourging.' Nor can it be spared. We could not do without it; and ere long we shall find this. Meanwhile let us try to understand the daily discipline, and use it faithfully and honestly; or, if we cannot fully interpret it, let us commend ourselves implicitly to the Chastener, assured that He will bring His own end out of it, whether we can see it or not. For this suffering, though hard for feeble flesh, is from the God of all grace, nay, from Him who hath called us to glory. Let us then connect the discipline with the 'grace,' and the 'calling,' and the 'glory.' The rod is perfect, the time the fittest, and the hand that administers is that of wisdom, and truth, and love. No chance stroke, no mistake, no fury, no angry haste. All is calmness, tenderness, patience, as profound and perfect as they are divine. Such has been God's dealing with His saints since the days of Abel. Such has been the Church's lot from the beginning. It is no strange thing that is happening to us in these last days. A suffering Church is that by which God is glorified. A suffering Church is that which affords such endless opportunities for the gracious interposition of the Comforter, half of whose love and fellowship would be unknown to us, were it not for our days and nights of sorrow. Suffering sanctifies and purifies; suffering molds the character; suffering makes the will pliant; suffering makes the closet a refuge, a sanctuary, and a home.

     V.  The results.-'Make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.' These results are all directly from the God of all grace. It is He Himself (α?τ?ς) who does it all, from first to last. In His mighty power He works. By His irresistible touch He molds us. He entrusts our restoration and complete renewal to none but Himself. None but a divine sculptor could so model, and chisel, and polish the earthly marble, as to bring out of its roughness and discolored deformity a statue complete in every feature, after the image of the incarnate Word Himself. In the hands of such a Master there can be no possibility of failure. He uses strange and unlikely instruments, yet the result is divine and eternal perfection. These results he sums up under four heads:-

     (1.) Make you perfect (καταρτ?σαι).-The perfection here is the full restoration, the complete equipment, the removal of all defects. The result aimed at by God in all discipline is perfection,-nothing short of this. We hinder the process, and make it much slower than it would have been; but still it goes on and on, till God perfects that which concerns us; till we reach the measure of the stature of a perfect man in Christ, standing perfect and complete in all the will of God.

     (2.) Stablish you (στηρ?ξαι).-The word means to fix firmly, set fast, make steadfast (Luke 22:32, 'Strengthen thy brethren;' Luke 9:51, 'He set His face steadfastly'). Trial gives us ballast and fixedness; it delivers us from changeableness and caprice, and love of novelty; it keeps us from being carried about with every wind of doctrine. The untried are generally unstable.

     (3.) Strengthen you (σθεν?σαι).-Internal invigoration and power are here indicated. That which seems at first to weaken ends in strengthening us; imparting energy and strength to mind, and will, and feeling; removing softness and feebleness; communicating that robustness to our spiritual constitution which makes us capable of enduring hardness and braving peril.

     (4.) Settle you (θεμελι?σαι).-The 'settling' refers to the foundation-stone, and our firm fastening to it, making us thereby steadfast and immoveable, rooted and grounded in love (Ephesians 3:17), grounded in the faith (Colossians 1:23), and not carried about with every wind of doctrine.

     Such are some of the results of the divine discipline. It sanctifies, ennobles, consolidates, and invigorates. It gives dignity, and weight, and influence to our Christian character. It makes our roots strike deeper, while it sends up our branches higher and wider, loading them with well-ripened and heavenly fruit.